GAA | McCabe leads a late surge against Hunterstown as the Clans book their place in the semi-finals

CTI Business Solutions Intermediate Championship Quarter Final
Clan na Gael 2–14 Hunterstown Rovers 1–12

Ray McCabe scores the Clans’ second goal against Hunterstown Rovers. PICTURES: WARREN MATTHEWS

Ray McCabe was the unlikely scoring hero for Clan na Gael in their CTI Business Solutions Intermediate Championship quarter-final win over Hunterstown Rovers in Castlebellingham on Sunday.

Deployed in a full forward role by manager Mark McCann, McCabe responded with a tally of 1–4 that helped the Dundalk side to a hard fought victory over a Hunterstown outfit who will count themselves a bit unlucky to see their championship come to an end on the back of a decent performance.

A nip and tuck first half — played at a snail’s pace at times — still yielded plenty of excellent scores from both sides.

JJ Quigley cut in from the left to float an effort over the top after two minutes to get the Clans up and running before a Paul Carrie free levelled matters.

The Hunterstown team gather in for a huddle. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

Quigley ran the inside left channel again to good effect shortly after, finishing a move that was started by a Micheal McDonnell interception at the other end but a fine effort by Tony McKenna left it all square again with nine minutes on the clock.

The Clans continued to find some joy on the left with Billy Smith finding his range with a well taken score but it was the mid-Louth side who built a head of steam after that.

Glen Matthews scored a classy point from the right before leaving Sean Smyth helpless with an even better finish to grab the game’s first goal in the 16th minute.

Left: Donal Boyle of the Clans holds off Hunterstown’s Alan Landy. Right: Conal McKeever gets clear of Hunterstown’s Martin Lennon. PICTURES: WARREN MATTHEWS

A second should have arrived at the other end three minutes later when Conal McKeever raced onto McCabe’s pass but the Louth star opted to take a point when a goal seemed the likelier option.

A Robbie Curran 45 left it 1–3 to 0–5 but Hunterstown looked clinical in front of the posts with Richie Taaffe coming from the back to whip a cracking effort over the bar.

Things were lively at this stage and the Clans opened Rovers up in the 25th minute with a brilliant move on the right. Quigley was instrumental, passing inside to Smith and he raced clear to make no mistake; 1–6 to 1–4.

Left: Robbie Curran hangs on for the Clans. Right: Ray McCabe beats Patrick Taaffe to this ball. PICTURES: WARREN MATTHEWS

It was Jim Mathews’ side who finished the half with their tails up, though, with a Paul Carrie free and another excellent point, this time from Brendan Lennon, leaving it all square, 1–6 apiece at the break.

The Clans hit three of the opening scores in the second-half with another delicious free by Curran followed by a brace from Ray McCabe, his second via the post.

Carrie doubled his own personal tally with a couple of simple frees to leave the minimum between the sides and defender Brian Mathews advanced to restore parity in the 43rd minute.

Left: Mark Newell lets fly for the Clans. Right: JJ Quigley in full flight. PICTURES: WARREN MATTHEWS

Curran missed a good chance from open play to move the Clans back in front and Hunterstown made them pay by edging in front when Carrie hit free number five of the afternoon and Alan Landy put some breathing space between the teams with a tidy effort.

The Castletown side needed a response and Curran stepped up to the mark, cutting across the ball brilliantly with a 45 in the 49th minute, the Dundalk side’s first score in some time, and he equalised two minutes later, leaving it 1–11 and very much in the melting pot.

The pendulum looked to have swung in the Clans’ favour when they got their noses in front with 56 minutes played. Billy Smith won possession in the middle of the park, fed Quigley and he turned on the afterburners to set up McCabe for what looked to be a crucial point.

The Clans team pictured before throw-in. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

Hunterstown, however, went straight down the other end and Tony McKenna tied it up again but it was Mark McCann’s side who finished on a high to book their place in the semis.

Conal McKeever’s second score of the day came just after McKenna’s equaliser and the Clans penned Rovers in from the kickout with Mark Newell’s lay-off driven home by McCabe to make it a four-point game with just two minutes to play.

Hunterstown still kept at it and it took a point blank save from Sean Smyth to deny Brendan Lennon from setting up a grandstand finish before McCabe put the seal on his side’s five-point win in stoppage time.

Clan na Gael’s Micheal McDonnell gets away from Hunterstown’s Padraig Mathews. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

CLAN NA GAEL: Sean Smyth; Ian Carr, Paul Crewe, Donal Boyle; Craig Long, Leo Martin, Micheal McDonnell; Robbie Curran (0–5, 2 ’45, 2f); Conor Noonan; Stephen Coleman, Billy Smith (1–1), JJ Quigley (0–2); Conal McKeever (0–2) Ray McCabe (1–4), Mark Newell. Subs: Stephen Fitzpatrick for L Martin, 20 mins; Kevin Carroll for I Carr, HT; Paul Gore for C Noonan, HT; Conor Noonan for S Coleman, 50 mins; Drew Duffy for M Newell, 59 mins.

HUNTERSTOWN ROVERS: Niall Carrie; Paul Taaffe, Brian Matthews (0–1), Martin Lennon; Patrick Taaffe, Paul Carrie (0–5, 5f), Richard Taaffe (0–1); Tony McKenna (0–2), David Finn; Robert McNeice, Brendan Lennon (0–1), Ryan Ward; Alan Landy (0–1), Padraig Matthews, Glen Mathews (1–1). Subs: Keith Brennan for R Ward, 45 mins; Conor Matthews for P Carrie, 60 mins.

REFEREE: Des McDonnell.

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